Theories of Psychology
Much of what we know about human thought and behavior has emerged thanks to various psychology theories. For example, biological approaches suggest that genetics are responsible for personality. Research on heritability suggests that there is a link between genetics and personality traits (Heffner Media Group, 2002). Behavioral theories demonstrated how conditioning can be used to learn new information and behaviors (Unknown, 2011). Cognitive theories of psychology are focused on internal states, such as motivation, problem solving, decision-making, thinking, and attention (Cognitive processes class 1997, 1997). The last theory I will talk about in this paper are psychodynamic theories. The psychodynamic approach includes all the theories in psychology that see human functioning based upon the interaction of drives and forces within the person, particularly unconscious, and between the different structures of the personality (McCarty, 2005). Psychology students typically spend a great deal of time studying these different theories. Some theories have fallen out of favor, while others remain widely accepted, but all have contributed tremendously to our understanding of human thought and behavior. By learning more about these theories, one can gain a deeper and richer understanding of psychology's past, present and future. Each psychological theory has aspects that I hope to retain and discard in my future of someday becoming a juvenile probation officer.
We are all time-bound creatures. We have a beginning and an end. Within these boundaries, time passes at a constant rate. The hour of our birth is as long as the hour of our death. Yet while time is constant, we are not. Hours in infancy have more power to shape us than in months in middle age. The relative impact of life, time lost, or time invested, is greatest early in life. Indeed, humanity was created in childhood. Behavioral theories suggest that personality is a result of interaction between the individual and the environment. Behavioral theories study observable and measurable behaviors, rejecting theories that take internal thought and feelings into account (Craig and Dunn, 2010). Although I am in agreeance with certain aspects of this theory, I also believe internal thoughts do help make up the person we become. People are changeable if they want to change. I believe the mind is a very powerful tool, and mind over matter is possible. However, behavioral theorist would disagree with that statement.
I agree and will retain the biological approach of childhood being so crucial in one's life. As might be expected, biological theorists tend to favor the nature side of the nature-nurture debate. As much as I'd like to agree with this approach, throughout this Human Development class I have learned that I favor the nurture side of the debate. I do believe in childhood, time and experience are magnified, amplified and empowered by the opportunity to express our genetic potential, or not. The young child's underdeveloped brain organizes in a "use-dependent" way, mirroring the pattern, timing, nature, frequency, and quality of experience (Crain, 2011). By the age of three, the brain is ninety percent adult size and the emotional, behavioral, cognitive and social foundation for the rest of life is in place (Craig and Dunn, 2010). Not to say these areas cannot be adjusted later in one's life, however social norms become patterns, and patterns are never easy to break. During early childhood, the organizing neural networks that are developing require touch, sight, sound, smell and movement in order to develop normally (Chavez, 2009). Absent experiences of sufficient duration or quality, and some of the genetic potential of the individual can be lost. An infant born in a hunter-gather clan twenty thousand years ago had the genetic potential to read and write, to plan piano, use a joy-stick and understand the double-helix of DNA. Instead, he...
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